It used to be that the leaders were the people in charge. As long as they did a good job, all was well. When they stumbled, the organization suffered until an adequate replacement could be found.
That type of leadership doesn’t work any longer. Why not? Because at its core, leadership is less about being “in charge” and more about creating positive change. It’s a responsibility we share together – all of us. In an interconnected world, there is simply too much leadership responsibility than the people in charge can handle on their own.
I’ve been wanting to share these four foundational people leadership skills for quite a while now. In over a decade of working with thousands of leaders, I estimate that 80% of all people leadership challenges come down to one of these 4 skills:
Assume Positive Intent
Set Clear Expectations
Give Quality Feedback
Master these skills, and leading people will be a rewarding experience – for you and the ones you’re privileged to lead.
“Never take council of your fears.” That’s a quote attributed to many legendary leaders over the years. They knew what many of us are still discovering – that fear has the power to cower the best of us into making foolish decisions or taking irresponsible actions (or inaction).
We all experience fear. The more leadership responsibility you accumulate, the more fear you’ll have to negotiate.
Leaders who don’t conquer their fears will exploit the fears in others.
No one has gone untouched in 2020. But it hasn’t just been the COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted each person, it’s the repercussions. Work instability, financial hardship, rapid pace of change, family lifestyle adjustments, isolation and loneliness. The stress, anxiety and pressure have reached new levels for many individuals. One Johns Hopkins study noted that one in four individuals will suffer a mental health disorder in any given year… and that was before COVID came.
These are the people you work with. These are the ones you lead. This is your reality in 2020.
Resilience is the ability to persist through challenging situations and overcome adversity. But what is the leader’s role in these challenging times? How can leaders provide the resilience their teams so desperately need?
Here are six questions leaders should use with their teams to get the conversation started.
What’s the quality of your conversations with your young professionals? More specifically, what questions are you asking them?
In my new book Stand Out!, I share that young professionals today are the leaders of tomorrow. The reason is a matter of simple mathematics. When the Baby Boomers retire, there won’t be enough Gen X’ers to take their places. Ready or not, it’s time for young professionals to prepare to lead.
The question isn’t if. It’s how soon… and whether or not they’ll be prepared. If you’re a leader, a big part of that responsibility falls on your shoulders.
Several years ago I interviewed with a large leadership development consulting firm. Things were going as expected until the office president threw me a curve ball by asking for my point-of-view on leadership. I was stumped. I had many ideas on what good leadership looked like but I didn’t have my own original model. Fortunately, I shared someone else’s POV I appreciated and was able to satisfy the president with my answer.
These days, my point-of-view on leadership keeps growing as I grow. I’ve continued to push my own beliefs of what effective leadership is and what the best leaders do. In fact, in my white paper Nine Ways to Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For, the very first best practice I share is that effective leaders “Believe in the cause.” They know what they stand for and case a positive vision for others.
So… what do you believe about leadership?
I’d like to share ten of my leadership beliefs with you.
My colleague Ann challenged my thinking recently. As she transitioned into a new CEO role, she reflected, “Other people have paved a way for us to succeed in ways we probably don’t realize.” I bristled at first because I wanted to believe most of my success was self-made. (This despite my being far from CEO material.) But a few days later as I stared out the window counting the Camaros in the parking lot, I came to a realization.
Someone else has
already invented the wheel. And because of that, all of us can focus on greater
In my book Ignite Your Leadership Expertise, I wrote that leaders make life easier, less complicated and more fun for those around them. When I first drafted those words several years ago, I’ll admit they felt a little cheesy. But over the years, I’ve come to realize their merit all too well.
“Leaders make life easier, less complicated and more fun for those around them.”
When you take just a minute to notice the state of the American corporate workforce, it won’t take long to realize pretty much everyone in charge leads an incredibly hectic life. They fight fires, address new problems and rush to prepare for the next emergency meeting – all before their coffee is finished!
If you want to support the leaders in your organization, be careful! When your help looks or feels like more extra work, be prepared for a negative reaction. Instead, look for ways your ideas and requests can feel like an “Easy Button” (from the famous Staples television campaign) for their challenges.
It’s been over a decade since I returned from a year-long Army deployment to Iraq. It’s been over six years since I finished my military obligations altogether. Even though I’ve all but forgotten my initial trip to the recruiter’s office, some things will stick with me for life.
From time to time, I’m asked how my military experience informed my leadership. Here is a small sample of my lessons learned.
Recently retired Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder famously crafted 16 Goals for Success which he used with his football teams over his decades of coaching. Goal #13 stated, “Expect to win… and truly believe we will.” According to Coach Snyder, one of the root causes of success was belief itself.
In my white paper Nine Ways to Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For, the very first best practice I share is “Belief in the cause.” As a leader, it’s not enough to simply perform the work itself. It’s also not enough to hold only private beliefs. Public beliefs allow leaders to give others around them something to aspire to.
What types of belief should a leader have? Here are a few for starters.
What happens when you find yourself in the midst of a crisis situation? Do you freeze up? Jump into action? Sit down to create a plan? What if you’re the person in charge?
It’s the leader’s job recognize when stakes are high and respond appropriately. We don’t need to look far to see harsh criticisms of leaders with underwhelming responses to crises that occurred on their watch.
If you find yourself in the midst of a crisis you didn’t create, welcome to leadership. How you respond may make all the difference.
These nine questions will help you plan your response.
I’m told that one quote preachers try to live by is, “If it’s foggy in the pulpit, it’s cloudy in the pew.” In other words, as the leader and communicator, if you’re unclear about any part of your message, it’s a sure bet everyone else is as well.
You don’t have to be a preacher to risk setting unclear expectations. If you’re responsible for performance outcomes of any kind, unclear expectations could be your biggest kryptonite. In fact, if the expectations you set are unclear, you force members of your team to work as much as three times as hard.